Today’s scripture readings seem to be about pity, mission and welcoming. In the book of Job, Job cries out, “Pity me, pity me, O you my friends, for the hand of God has struck me!” However, he closes with his longing to see God. The psalmist proclaims, “have pity on me and answer me.” And in Luke, Jesus sends out 72 disciples in pairs (the first missionaries?). He sends them as lambs among wolves. Jesus sends them with nothing and instructs them to proclaim, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.” And woe to the towns that do not welcome those disciples.
I love the book of Job. I think all of us have been there. Life is in a downward spiral and it seems God is nowhere to be found. When I start into this mode and start singing the refrain from Poor, Poor Pitiful Me, my wife asks if we’re going to have a pity party. That usually brings me around. There’s an old saying that suffering is inevitable, but misery is optional.
My wife recently lost her job. It has been a strain and was a very hard thing for her, but I have marveled at her faith and how she has accepted it as an opportunity. Another old saying is that when God closes a door, he opens a window.
Sometimes you just have to wonder about God’s plan. I wonder what the 72 disciples thought. The Man (Son of Man to be exact) has chosen us to represent Him! This will be great. How much money will we be taking on this trip? None. Equipment? None. Extra shoes? No. And here are your instructions. You will give the Good News to total strangers and hope they welcome you. What? That’s the plan? You have to think that there might have been some among the 72 who might have had second thoughts about this mission. Christ seems to keep the commands simple, but they often seem difficult.
My son and I went on a mission trip to Haiti recently. In contrast to the 72, my wife packed a suitcase full of snacks. That said, I still felt insecure, unprepared and inadequate for the task before us. Going to a foreign land to work alongside strangers who spoke a different language. Is this really what God wants me to do? How was I going to spread the Good News of Christ to people who don’t understand my language?
Walking down a dusty road in rural Haiti headed to our work site, I was attempting to have a conversation with our host and interpreter, Benji. Benji looked at me and said, “Jesus said, fit my ship.” What? I didn’t even know Jesus owned a boat. How did I miss that passage? I realized, he meant, Jesus said, feed my sheep. As I recognized the saying, Benji continued and said to me, “that is what you are doing.” It still brings tears to my eyes.
It’s hard to understand God’s plan. Sometimes it’s hard to simply discern what God wants us to do. And yet, when we trust Him, we often find ourselves in wonderful, life-changing situations. I’ve thought a lot about Benji. Sometimes God places someone in our life to bolster our faith or confirm that we are on the right path.
My prayer today is for those of us who have trouble trusting God. Those of us who worry about God’s plan; that we would know how much God loves us and that we would trust Him.
Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook